Former Chelsea left-back Scott Minto believes Chelsea may reluctantly have to release N’Golo Kante due to his contract demands.
French midfielder Kante has been plagued by numerous injuries in recent years and he has entered the final year of his current deal at Stamford Bridge.
He started the Blues’ opening two Premier League matches, but has failed to feature since the enthralling 2-2 draw against Tottenham in August after picking up a hamstring knock.
It is understood the 31-year-old is seeking a four-year deal to sign a new contract with the west London club – just like the one handed to summer signing Kalidou Koulibaly who is the same age.
But, due to his repeated niggles, it is reported the Blues are only willing to offer him a two-year extension with the option of a third.
Speaking on the talkSPORT Breakfast about Kante’s future, Minto stated it could be time to move the 2018 World Cup winner on.
The former Blues ace said: “He’s 31, he’s a superb player and when he’s fit I still don’t think there’s anyone better.
“You go back to that Tottenham game where Chelsea outplayed Spurs and Spurs nicked it, he was absolutely superb.
“But one, he’s not always fit, and two, when you’re the wrong side of 30, I don’t think you can ask for four-year contracts.
“You simply can’t, you get a two-year at best.
“So if he’s demanding that and it’s that or nothing, then I think Chelsea have to let him go.”
Chelsea manager Graham Potter has also cast doubt on Kante penning a new deal after comments made ahead of Wednesday night’s clash with AC Milan in the Champions League.
The new Blues boss remarked: “My focus at the moment is to help rehabilitate N’Golo in a good way so he’s available for us, because when he’s on the pitch he’s a huge asset.
“The other stuff is between the club and him. But my focus is to help him get fit, get him enjoying his football.
“Because there are not many players in world football like NG.
“So, the quicker he’s back for us, the better. That’s where I’ll leave my focus.
“It’s hard to replace someone like NG, a world-class player, any team that loses him will suffer a little bit.
“If I look at the options I’ve got, not got a direct replacement, so I’ve got to find the right one.”